Despite finishing the season with an 8-2 record, Ridgefield was ninth in the Class LL point rankings, falling one spot shy of qualifying for the state playoffs.
In the finale, the visiting Tigers played the merciless guests by racking up a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and kept the pressure on their neighboring rivals for the full 48 minutes.
Sam Gravitte, as he has for most of the season, led the way with 157 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. The trio of scores enabled the senior slotback to break the program single-season touchdown record with 23, including 10 in the last three games.
Quarterback Connor Rowe had his best game statistically by completing 20-of-24 passes for 142 yards and rushing for 77 yards Will Bonaparte ran for 80 yards and Andrew Chuma had six receptions.
Mickey Hicks (eight solo tackles/interception), Victor Fernandez (seven solo tackles/sack), Kyle Cavalea (six solo tackles) and co-captain Chris Mirra (two interceptions) led the stingy defensive effort and completed their Tiger careers with excellent games.
Gravitte opened the scoring on Ridgefield’s second possession with a 26-yard run. Fernandez’s fourth-down sack then returned the ball to the Tigers, and Rowe found senior Brett Baker for a first down. After Rowe ran for 18 yards, he connected with Chuma in the end zone on a 13-yard scoring play. Moments later, it was Rowe-to-Chuma again for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter.
After Mirra intercepted a pass with 28 seconds remaining in the quarter, Gravitte, as is his wont, broke five tackles en route to a 41-yard run scoring run.
Rowe added a 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to extend the lead to 28-0, and then Gravitte scored on a two-yard run to push it to 35-0 before the Hatters got on the board with Elijah Duffy’s 27-yard touchdown run to make it 35-6 at halftime.
Rowe completed the scoring with his eighth touchdown of the season on an 18-yard run in the third quarter.
Notes: Ridgefield pounded out a season-high 354 rushing yards on 41 carries. Gravitte had his most carries of the season with 14. Seniors Erik Webber, John Mullery and Timo Muro each had a reception, while classmate Baker had three for 60 yards. Senior Luke Gallo added a sack.
A number of RHS single-season records were broken in 2012, including Gravitte’s staggering 183 total points. The records will be published in next week’s Press.
Callahan was happy with an 8-2 record but dismayed that his squad didn’t qualify for the state playoffs.
“Honestly, it’s a bittersweet feeling, painful actually, as we finished with the same record as last year when we qualified,” he said. “We finished strongly (three straight wins) after the McMahon loss. That’s all I asked the kids, was to finish strongly and play with pride. Mirra’s brother, Jon, also intercepted a pass in his final game as a senior, so that was nice. And what Sam accomplished was remarkable. He’s an irreplaceable player.”